Spotlight City: London, UK
London is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of about 8,670,000. London’s global relevance cannot be understated, being a leading global city in commerce, finance, healthcare, tourism, arts, education, entertainment, fashion, media, professional services, research and development, and transportation. It is the world’s largest financial centre and has one of the highest metropolitan GDPs in the world. London’s boasts the largest concentration of higher education institutes in Europe and contains four World Heritage Sites: The Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the sites of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church. London is generally a very safe city, with low levels of crime.
Threats and Risks to Travelers in London
London is a very safe city by international standard. However, like every large city, it suffers from a certain degree of petty crime. Beggars and street theft are the most common issues. Take care to secure your belongings when travelling. Take extra caution with your belongings in crowded areas such as popular points of interest and on public transit, as thieves frequent these locations.
Generally speaking, the most populated areas of London see the highest crime rates. Westminster has the highest and Camden is second, with crime concentrated in high density shopping areas like Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. Be a bit more careful in these areas.
Assume normal precautions in London. Remain attentive of your person when out travelling, and be aware of personal space and exercise caution if you find people bumping into you haphazardly, as this is a common way pickpockets steal. Keep wallets in your front pocket and purses tucked underneath your arm.
If you plan on going out at night, try to stick to crowded areas such as the West End. Avoid empty side alleys and walk with purpose at night to minimize your risk of encounter crime.
Scams specifically targeting travelers are not uncommon. Common ones include scammers offering to help you withdraw money from an ATM, distraction scams in which scammers stage shows while their partner pickpockets onlookers, betting games, and fake auctions. Avoid getting in unofficial taxis.
Be aware that the threat of terrorism exists in London. Attacks have occurred very recently in the city, and the unpredictable nature of terrorism in Europe makes it a looming risk.
What to Do in an Emergency
In the event of an emergency, dial 999 or 112 to access emergency fire, medical and police services. Contact the embassy of your country in the UK as they may be able to provide further assistance. Most representations will be present in London itself.
London, in many ways, is the true heart of Europe. Vibrant, dynamic and multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and energy. The River Thames, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, and Big Ben are all but just a few of London’s worthwhile attractions. Whether you are here for business or leisure, London deserves a through visit to explore all of its pleasures.